Monday, August 22, 2011

Things I Don't Need

This post was inspired by Zen Habits, a blog I read as often as it's updated. Much of my journey into the exploration of positive psychology began there. I consistently find places where the two paths converge. I intend to write on the subject a little more when I'm ready, but it isn't time for that yet. 

Today's article was on the 5 principles of a profound workday, however, I think they're simply 5 principles for a profound life. The focus was on simplifying. Simplify your day, your space, your so on and so forth. Take your time. Do something worthwhile with your day. I'll share an excerpt, the section that resonated most for me:
4. Simplified. The principles for a profound workday might seem impractical to most people, because there just isn’t the time or space to implement them. The only way to create this type of workday is to simplify.
It’s the key to everything else. Subtract. Pare everything down to its essence.
What’s on your desk right now? What are the three items that actually need to be there? Remove everything else.
What’s on your schedule for today? What are the three tasks that would really make a difference in your life? Eliminate everything else that you possibly can.
What do you do every day? How many of those things can be eventually pared down?
How much do you do online? Could you do without it?
Simplify, and you’ll be able to find emptiness, solitude, silence, slowness, mindfulness.

"Subtract. Pare everything down to its essence." It's that line that really gets me. From there I look inward and I see in myself all the things I need to pare down to get to my essence. So I asked myself, "What are things I don't need in my life?" Here are my answers:

I don’t need depression.
I don’t need another human being to feel complete.
I don’t need a partner to be active.
I don’t need someone else to explore the world.
I don’t need to hold other people up to my expectations.
I don’t need to live through expectation.
I don’t need World of Warcraft.
I don’t need to feel like I’m not good enough.
I don’t need to feel like what I create is not good enough for others.
I don’t need days in which I create nothing.
I don’t need to be shy or bashful.
I don’t need boredom.
I don’t need “I don’t know how.”
I don’t need a lack of faith in myself.
I don’t need to think about where I should be, what I should be.
I do not need fear.

Take away depression, to make more room for contentment.
I must be all me to share myself fully.
Take away lethargy and lack of motivation, I can enjoy the things I enjoy with and for myself.
The world is a fascinating, exciting place. I can appreciate it alone or with someone.
Take away expectation, let things simply be.
Take away World of Warcraft. I barely enjoy it and I feel bound to it. Take away unnecessary responsibilities.
Take away insecurity. Self-doubt is poisonous.
Take away distrust. Listen to the voices of those who appreciate every thing I create.
Take away shyness, if the dance floor is the place I am most comfortable, let the world be the dance floor.
Take away boredom, let there be activity. There is always something to learn, something to do.
Take away “I don’t know how.” I know how to research, how to learn. Use that knowledge and don’t give up because it’s difficult to find motivation.
Take away self-judgment, the world is as it is and is what it is, and so am I.
I am here. The path led here. The only direction I can go is forward, with the current.
Take away fear, let it enter a chrysalis and emerge courage.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Diet vs. Dieting

I don’t like the concept of dieting. I see a huge dichotomy between diet and dieting that shouldn’t be there. If your diet is bad and you go on a diet, there’s no permanence to that. The diet you’re on may be a good one, but if you give it up later, what was the point? That being said, I’ve been eating healthier and healthier over the last couple years. I have never gone on a diet, but I have been changing mine. It’s been a slow process but since I worked on one thing at a time, it was such a small thing that I didn’t know how well I’d succeeded til I discovered I was ready for the next change.

Let me share with you some of the biggest changes I’ve made:

- First, I stopped eating fast food almost entirely. This was pretty easy for me, since I find greasy, low quality junk food unpleasant anyway. The quality and the prices disgusted me, since by the time you super size a meal you may as well have had a decent meal at a decent restaurant. I usually look for the cheapest delicious looking item on the menu anyway.

- Next, I stopped drinking soda. This was harder. I used to drink a -lot- of soda and I really prefer my beverages have flavor. But soda is horrible for you. Not just because you can use Coca Cola to clean up oil spills, battery terminals, or dissolve nails. The carbonation is bad for your bones, too. These days I typically drink water, coffee, wine and juices.

- I avoid processed food as much as possible. I personally avoid eating anything premade unless it comes out of a can. In the long run I don’t do that much either. Human beings weren’t designed to eat Meals Rejected by Ethiopia. (MREs or Meals Ready to Eat). And don’t tell me your microwave dinner is anything more than a tasty version of the same.

- My most recent change is also related to what I do/do not drink. Anyone who knows me at all can tell you that I refuse to operate without a double mocha first thing in the morning. That makes for a massive intake of milk (especially when I had milk in my cereal, too). The human body is not designed to digest cow’s milk, let alone the processed milk we drink. I moved from 2% milk in my mochas to soy milk. Since making that change I’ve started using soy milk in my cereal as well. It’s a bit more expensive, but it has a richer, nuttier flavor I’ve come to enjoy and I’ve lost weight.

- Finally, the hardest one for me, avoiding candy. When I find myself craving sweets I try to at least eat something natural. My boss at work has his “office” right across from my desk and keeps a bowl of bite-sized candies out for everyone. While I don’t begrudge myself one from time to time, when I find myself wanting one I make the trek down to our cafĂ© and get a fruit smoothie. (Frozen fruit and apple juice, nothing more).

A caveat before I close. You’ll notice I use words like “typically,” “avoid,” “usually” and so on fairly often. I don’t consider myself an obsessive health food nut and I indulge myself in things I enjoy but don’t consider off limits often enough. (Soda and fast food are mostly off limits. Ice cream, the occasional bag of gummi bears, the bite sized candy bars, those are fine from time to time.) And that’s ok, because it’s just how I eat, not part of some diet I’m on to get slimmer. I feel better, trimmer, more content with my body and self, eating the way I do. It is its own reward.

Of course it is not enough just to eat well. A good diet is a great step forward. The next step is to get off the couch, out of the computer chair, out of the house and LIVE.